Will Mavs 'Free Roddy B' Via Trade?
With the 2012 offseason soon to begin in earnest the future of the Dallas Mavericks hangs in a limbo it hasn't known since a tall skinny kid from Germany with a skater-cut stood beside an equally blonde-highlighted Steve Nash with Don Nelson standing between them. Dirk Nowitzki held his new number 41 jersey out over the precipice of a new Mavs world, where over a decade of excellence crouched in wait.
In the shadow of the current unknown lie the few players still under contract, including one Rodrigue Beaubois and the $2.23 million he'll be owed next season … and we're forced to wonder if "Free Roddy B" is about to become a double entendre.
In part due to the spot many forced him into almost immediately upon his arrival, not the hyperbole delivered by flashes of explosive brilliance during his rookie season, but when many decided there was room in their hearts for either JJ Barea or Roddy Beaubois, never both. Since that time, there has been little space between love and hate for Roddy B and the hope he once seemed to represent.
He was the future, the star in waiting, the one chosen for Dirk Nowitzki to eventually hand the torch to.
So, what's changed?
For one, it's a full two years later and what growth has been shown arrives in a far subtler form than most projected or expected … and now we're hearing whispers that patience within the Mavs organization may be more deeply eroded than that in fans, though perhaps not in precisely the same manner some may expect.
Should Dallas be turning the page and moving on from Roddy Beaubois … already?
We'll begin with a few areas that often get overlooked when passing judgment on Roddy's progress as a player, and by noting that we're essentially fresh off of his first full season at a new position, likely the most intricately difficult position on the court: point guard.
When Roddy conceived the hype that's slowly fallen away, he did so while being asked to do little more than score. There were no responsibilities cluttering his basketball brain during his NBA infancy, just a simple instruction to attack and put the ball in the basket. The constructs of the team's system were a formality accepting of his unpredictability, not a prism by which he was being asked to govern his on-court actions.
He didn't run the offense; he only ran.
He was allowed to rely on the instincts of the individual, rather than the intuition of the whole.
Is it any surprise his progress has appeared to stutter once he was asked to infuse the one part of his body he was freed to thrive without by the grace of his extreme physical gifts: his mind? Perhaps it was unreasonable to assume a step forward could come without two steps back.
Yet, there are signs of progress. On a per-minute basis, in 2011-12 Roddy had career bests in each of the following categories: rebounding, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers and personal fouls. Only the trait that most set him apart, that most intrigued us, betrayed him as an apparent hesitancy settled over his game.
As he took the fewest shots per-minute of his career, tying his worst field-goal percentage, he began to settle, taking 27.2 percent less attempts at the rim per-minute than he had while dazzling us in his first season (setting a new career low per-minute in the process) and 13 percent less than he did during his 2010-11 regular-season cameo.
Whether as a result of a decreasing will to attack the rim, facing better prepared defenses, or being hindered by the internal mental tug-of-war between his singular instincts and the desires to yield to the needs of running an offense; he managed to be both less aggressive and hoist a plethora of ill-advised shots, such as off-the-dribble 3-pointers … helping contribute to a career worst 28.8 3-point percentage to go along with his 42.2 field-goal percentage.
There were still flashes of brilliance, such as a pair of games against Utah that saw him average 19.5 points, 62.5 field-goal percentage, 4.5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and only 1.5 turnovers. There were others as well, but these moments of promising growth remained just that: moments. Never were they prolonged enough to become a trend. Instead they always seemed to roll away as a tease.
Again, we can't help but remember that this was a player living his first full season at a new position and who has still played only 2,347 regular season minutes in his career … less minutes than Jason Terry (2,635.5) or Dirk Nowitzki (2,736.7) average for a single season over the course of their careers.
There are ample reasons to curb your expectations for Roddy, just as there are plenty of justifications to maintain hope.
Given his relatively low salary, his youth, and his possible ceiling, is their something amiss in the above that may explain why Dallas sounds ready to make Roddy B a salary-shedding casualty?
Put simply: yes.
Beyond stats, the league's best are driven by an insatiable desire, a "want to," to improve, to persevere, and to become the best. DB.com has been made aware that there are those inside Mavs HQ who are wondering about lack of "want to" from Roddy. It's not a purposeful thing, not a stubborn laziness, but rather a "cool'' demeanor when coaches wish it was "hotter.''
Meanwhile, some patience has worn thin over his lack of natural instincts for the whole of the game, what many of us have come to refer to as BBIQ. (This doesn't prevent him from being an NBA player. But it makes it very difficult to see him developing into a point guard of any sort of convention.)
If this is the case, stats find their significance shrink. Brief glimpses of brilliance are buried beneath the reality that brief glimpses may be all there is to find. While we're not sure the time has come to give up on the hope Roddy B embodies, if the coaching staff is scratching its head, the question may not be, "Are the Mavs giving up on, Roddy B?" but rather "Where else do they turn?"
Has Dominique Jones done enough to foster any confidence in his growth? Is the prospect of the NBA unknown Nick Calathes (a player DB.com has been mentioning for weeks as a name you'd start to hear more about, a prediction made true as he's expressed interest in leaving Greece for the NBA and Dallas) enough to replace the extremely limited well of youth Dallas has to draw from on the current roster?
Will the acquisition of a "big fish'' like Deron Williams render meaningless the idea of developing anyone?
We'll ask again, "Are the Mavs giving up on Roddy?"
Let's just say, we doubt we'll hear Mark Cuban call him "untouchable" in the near future. For the first time since his arrival, Roddy B may not be viewed as a piece of the future. Anything can happen, but it's safe to say Roddy's future with the Mavs is as uncertain as the team's is as a whole … now dancing over the precipice of change.
Has "Free Roddy B" become a double entendre?
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